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U.S. Lifts Tariffs Placed on Mexico and Canada; Clears Obstacle for Passage of USMCA - Washington Report

The United States has reached a deal to lift tariffs that President Trump had placed on steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada.  In turn, Canada and Mexico removed the counter-tariffs they had put on more than $15 billion in U.S. exports, including many agricultural products important to Midwestern states.

The deal calls for Mexico and Canada to adopt tough new monitoring and enforcement measures to prevent subsidized Chinese steel from being shipped to the United States via their territory.

Lifting the tariffs clears a major obstacle to congressional passage of the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement.  President Trump said that “USMCA will be a fantastic deal for our country. Hopefully Congress will pass USMCA, quickly.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the end of the U.S. tariffs “terrific news.”  A statement from the office of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said “Mexico has reached a highly satisfactory agreement with the United States as a result of the dedication, will and vision of both countries.”

In a closed-door lunch with GOP senators on Tuesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he is optimistic about the prospects of getting USMCA passed and that he is still negotiating with Speaker Pelosi. Senate Republicans left the lunch with renewed hope about the prospects of the new trade pact with Mexico and Canada, saying they believe the new pact will easily get through the Senate now that the duties are gone.

House Democrats have called for changes to the pact’s provisions on labor, environment and pharmaceuticals.  Canada and Mexico do not favor reopening the pact to address Democrats’ remaining concerns.

The White House had planned to submit paperwork to Congress this week that would have started the process for getting the deal approved.  However, Lighthizer held back after Pelosi and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said sending up the documents without any path forward to resolve Democratic concerns would have made it more difficult to maintain a constructive process.

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday called on Congress to approve the agreement this summer.